S3:E5 Benjamin Bergen – What the F


Author Background:

Benjamin Bergen is a professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego.  He teaches and does research on language and the brain.  Ben’s the author of two books; Louder than Words, which proposes a new theory of how people understand the meanings of words, and What The F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves.  He earned a PhD in Linguistics from UC Berkeley.

Ben’s Book Recommendation:














Audio Podcast:

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Other ways to listen:
*  On iTunes
*  Right Click + Save As to download as an MP3
*  Stream here directly

Five Good Questions:  

  1. Is there truth to the myth that swear words come from a different part of our brains?  What’s aphasia?
  2. How do swear words operate with their own grammar?  It seems like fuck is a Swiss Army Knife of words.
  3. There appears to be a Gresham’s Law to swear words where once a word takes on a taboo meaning, it drives out all of it’s non-profane meanings.  How do swear words evolve?
  4. What’s the story behind Samoan children’s first word?
  5. Is the internet leading to a homogenization of swearing?  It seems like new swear words could bubble up more readily through the use of hashtags, but are we also losing some local color in the process?

With gratitude,

JLT Signature


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